Friday, April 03, 2009

Praise and Insult

Have you noticed that if someone praises you, there is always this embarrassing feeling that you don’t deserve it? A feeling that you are not as good as they think you are?

Have you also noticed that if someone insults or castigates you, there is always this reactive feeling of being unfairly, unjustly, callously dealt with? A feeling that you are not all that bad as you are being made out to be, and that the other has no right to say what they are saying?

These are the symptoms of the inner “I” for anyone who cares to observe. Do you have similar responses?

Praise is for “me” but I know that “I” am rotten at the core, and hence am not deserving of so much praise for this incidental achievement. After all, I know about my dark side, which I hide very successfully.

As for insults, “I” am being called for who “I” am, but I also know that the “other” is also a rotten being, so how dare the pot call the kettle black? "Doesn’t he/she think I know? And moreover, how come he doesn't acknowledge my good side? I am basically good, am I not? and I deserve to exist, to feel good about myself, and be respected!"

It may happen that a person is so deluded and “enlightened” that he is very successful at hiding his dark side from himself, whereas others can see it in plain action. In that case, praise and adulation is no problem. Insult still is a problem, usually, which should give one pause.

And it may happen that someone may feel so inferior and inadequate that any castigation or admonition is taken as another confirmation of one’s low opinion of oneself.

Both these responses are pathological. For a normal person, praise and insult both are uncomfortable situations.

It is however, possible for one to let praise and insults pass completely by, without reaction (or with minimal reaction), if one is no longer living as a psychic entity (or if one is attentive).


Anonymous said...

Actually, with me, I don't like being praised at all since it hurts my ego. I feel that I am so good that "who is this person to praise me". Praises always end up being shallow or for some ulterior motive. They normally do not touch upon the the things that I truly feel a sense of achievement for. Does that make sense?


Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Rajul

It makes sense. And it may or may not be a sign of a gigantic ego. Do you, however, routinely seek to discover the "ulterior motive" behind a comment?

Do you yourself normally touch upon the things that you truly feel a sense of achievement for? Are they apparent?

Being an enabler and an achiever has this problem: people around you have been enabled by you and they praise those aspects of you which are the enabling ones. That is, they see you as having played a part in their lives. They don't see you for what you have achieved for yourself.

Anonymous said...

No, but I think an unstated but omnipresent "ulterior motive" behind any praise is raising the bar. Its like corporate recognition - people expect you to do better. Or like parents praise their kids, they want them to do even better. Positive re-enforcement.

Good question - I am not normally conscious about things that I truly feel a sense of achievement for. But the shallowness of some praises makes me know what is not really an achievement for me.

In any case, its an interesting discussion - I do think of myself as a strong egoist, but also think that ego ultimately leads to humility. (why do I even need to be superior) - Rajul

Harmanjit Singh said...

An interesting letter about the issue of self-worth: